-- HealthDay staff
SATURDAY, Dec. 7, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A new hepatitis C
drug that can be taken as a pill once a day was approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
The drug, called Sovaldi and made by Calif.-based Gilead
Sciences Inc., works faster and should be much simpler to take for
the millions of Americans who have the virus, which can destroy the
liver if left untreated.
The FDA said in a statement that Sovaldi is to be taken with
older drugs to treat the main forms of hepatitis C. The agency
added that 3.2 million Americans have the disease, and people born
between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to be
Current treatments can take almost a year to beat back the
virus, and involve weekly injections of the drug interferon, which
can cause diarrhea and flu-like symptoms, the FDA said. Only about
75 percent of patients are cured with current treatments. In
clinical trials, Sovaldi cured close to 90 percent of patients in
just 12 weeks, when combined with the standard treatment.
Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is the second hepatitis C drug to be
approved by the FDA in the past two weeks. In November, the agency
gave its blessing to Olysio (simeprevir), made by Janssen
Pharmaceuticals, of Raritan, N.J.
Symptoms of hepatitis C disease may not appear until two or
three decades after infection, though the virus can cause liver
failure, cirrhosis and cancer, the FDA said.
Gilead Sciences said Friday that a four-week supply of the drug
would cost $28,000 at the wholesale rate.
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